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An Out of This World Discovery by Julia Odendaal
For: Students For: Teachers/Parents For: Women in SETT

An Out of This World Discovery by Julia Odendaal

Around the world right now there are so many things happening, with COVID-19 and the US presidential election. Not many people are focusing on the up-and-comers of scientific discoveries. 2020 has been a crazy year, not a great one but for the Canadian Space Agency 2020 has come with the findings of a possible second solar system, and a new leader.  

Around the world right now there are so many things happening, with COVID-19 and the US presidential election. Not many people are focusing on the up-and-comers of scientific discoveries. 2020 has been a crazy year, not a great one but for the Canadian Space Agency 2020 has come with the findings of a possible second solar system, and a new leader.  

 There are so many amazing women doing incredible things in today’s world. Including Lisa Campbell, she is the first female President of the Canadian Space Agency. She stepped into this huge role with hard work and dedication. Using her leadership skills, she guided the agency to new heights. Campbell previously served as the Associate Deputy Minister with Veterans Affairs Canada. She also acquired a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science from McGill University and a Legum Baccalaureus of Law from Dalhousie Law Schoolcreating a strong educational background that’s great asset in this position. She has worked in both the private and public sectors in employment, constitutional and criminal law.  

 Her long-standing history with the Government of Canada includes Assistant Deputy Minister, Defense and Marine Procurement, Public Services and Procurement, where she provided military and marine procurement solutions, as well as Senior Deputy Commissioner for Canada’s competition authority, responsible for reviewing business conduct across the board.  All of this experience makes her the perfect person to lead the Canadian Space Agency through the multitude of funding opportunities coming their way over the next several years.  

 Many of us have heard of the mythical hybrid between human and horsethe centaur, but I’m sure you wouldn’t believe what I’m about to tell you!  

 The ATLAS telescope located in Hawaii captured images of what appears to be a second solar system. They’re calling this centaur (a hybrid between a comet and an asteroid) orbiting object the P/2019 LD2. Because of its composition and its overall potential to move rapidly across the solar system, some astronomers believe that centaurs are a so-called missing link between small icy masses in the Kuiper Belt which is beyond Neptune and comets that regularly visit the inner solar system (SN: 11/19/94).

 Sciencenews.org calls these icy masses, short-period comets. They are expected to orbit around the sun once per decade. Sometimes will even come close enough to be seen from earth. Other longer period comets including Halley’s Comet, which only visits our solar system once in a century. These comets most likely originated from further beyond the sun.  

 Oftentimes, we (as amateurs) think of asteroids and comets as pretty much the same thing. Astronomers are now teaching us the differences, and also about the increasing number of “crossovers” or hybrids, just like the mythical centaur. The hybrids first appear to act as a standard asteroid and then later begin to morph and develop new activity (such as tails)  specific to comets. Astronomers and scientists have yet to tell us how or why this may be happening within the walls of our solar system.  

 What’s the difference between a comet and an asteroid? Tim Childers from Live Science tells us that comets are known as a dirty space snowball, made of mostly ice and dust. As comets tend to have a more stable orbit. Whereas asteroids are known as the rocky and airless leftovers from the formation of plants in our solar system. Asteroids mostly orbit around the sun in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. 1 

While the ATLAS telescope has discovered more than 40 cometsthis particular discovery of the 2019 LD2  is quite interesting because of the way that it orbits. This begs the question; Why is the orbit of this object extraordinary? Writers at NASA answered; The early indication that it was an asteroid near Jupiter’s orbit has now been confirmed through precise measurements from many different observations. This hybrid orbits in the same area that Jupiter does, implying that it may be part of the Jupiter’s trojans; a group of asteroids that share the same orbit as Jupiter. This was initially proven to be false by Sam Deen and Tony Dunn on the Minor planet Mailing List on May 21st, 2020. But after further observation it’s been determined that 2019 LD2 is part of Jupiter’s Trojans, it just exhibits different behaviors never seen before because it spewing out dust and gas which are characteristics of a comet. 

 As new observations are being conducted to try to figure out what actually happened. The only thing I am certain of is that the universe is full of big surprises. Even explorations to warn us of possible dangerous asteroids leaves us with many unexpected treasures that are harmless but incredibly fascinating objects that teach us more about the history of our solar system.  

 

 

  1. Childers, T. (2019, September 04).What’s the Difference Between Asteroids, Comets and Meteors? Retrieved October/November, 2020, from https://www.livescience.com/difference-between-asteroids-comets-and-meteors.html 

 

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Partnerships Program 2020-2021
For: Teachers/Parents For: Women in SETT

Partnerships Program 2020-2021

This program is an opportunity for community organizations in Atlantic Canada to apply for small one-year sponsorships for new activities and/or projects that promote the outreach, recruitment, and retention for girls, young women, and industry professionals in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM).

If you have a great idea for a new activity, conference, workshops etc. that aims to support girls and women in STEM and you and/or your organization is located in any of the Atlantic Provinces, then be sure to apply. You could receive a sponsorship of up to $3,000!

Applications will be accepted from September 4 to October 23, 2020. Due to COVID, we are also accepting applications for virtual programming this year.

Make sure to visit our Partnerships Program page for eligibility requirements and the application form.

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The Dr. Margaret-Ann Armour National Conference Grant
For: Women in SETT

The Dr. Margaret-Ann Armour National Conference Grant

The CWSE Network will be accepting applications for the next round of the Dr. Margaret-Ann National Conference Grant between September 7-15th, 2020. The purpose of this grant is to support the organization of non-profit national conferences that contribute to the advancement of women in STEM.

Due to COVID-19, we will consider applications for virtual conferences and workshops for the 2020-2021 year. To find out more or to download the grant forms, visit our Dr. Margaret-Ann Armour Conference Grant page

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Striving for Balance - International Women's Day 2019
For: Teachers/Parents For: Women in SETT

Striving for Balance - International Women's Day 2019

On March 8, 2019, nations from around the world recognized International Women’s Day (IWD), celebrating women and girls and committing to a vision of a world that does more to support and empower them.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day, ‘Balance for Better,’ hit especially close to home for WISEatlantic. The theme focused international attention on working towards a balance of genders in all areas of the workforce in order to better our world. Striving towards the day where gender balance is achieved in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers is at the core of what WISE Atlantic does.

“I think the theme was important, because many people assume that we already have a gender equitable workforce as more females are going to university or post-secondary than ever before,” says Sally Marchand, program coordinator at WISEatlantic, “But in some fields such as STEM and Business, a gender equitable workforce isn’t the case.”

STEM fields still show disparity between the percentages of men and women who choose to pursue careers in them and between the percentages of men and women who choose to stay.

“’Balance for Better’ speaks to our mission of increasing the number of women in STEM careers – a more gender equitable workforce will increase innovation and make the working environment better for both women and men.” Sally says.

WISEatlantic has been participating in IWD events since 2012. This year, WISEatlantic ran a session at MSVU during the Girl’s Conference and spoke with young girls and their parents about WISEatlantic programs at the International Women’s Day event hosted at the Halifax Central Library.

The session at the Girl’s Conference featured role models from various STEM careers who spoke with participants about their jobs. The role models were beekeeper and dietician Jillian Ruhl, software engineer Anna Bullen, chemist Christa Brosseau, business analyst Amanda Macphee, mathematician Karyn McLellan and biologist Danielle Gaiter. More than a few girls said that the workshop was their favourite.

“Exploring Careers with Impact was my favorite workshop because I learned a lot about different careers in more detail and from the person themselves. It helped me know about more career options and open up future possibilities.” one girl said.

During the event at the Halifax Central Library, Sally was interviewed by CBC radio. She says that her most memorable moment from this year’s IWD events was also at the library, listening to keynote speaker Dr. Rita Orji.

“She is so inspiring to young girls, as she hadn’t even used a computer before she enrolled in Computer Science in university and now she has a PhD in computer science.” Sally says.

Overall, both events were a success, and it was inspiring to be able to participate in such an important celebration.

“Participating in IWD events is important, as it renews the call to support women in the workforce and the challenges that they still face, particularly for Women in STEM.” Sally says. “It’s encouraging to see how many people and organizations out there are supporting Women in STEM.”

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Antigonish Area Girls Participate in Girls Get WISE Science Retreat
For: Teachers/Parents For: Women in SETT

Antigonish Area Girls Participate in Girls Get WISE Science Retreat

We had a fantastic time at the first-ever Girls Get WISE Science Retreat at St. FX University on March 23, 2019.

The 11 girls who participated in the event learned the physics behind roller coasters and used that knowledge to build their own roller coasters using foam pipe insulation and marbles. X-Chem Outreach coordinator Jennifer Fraser led the other hands-on session; using various methods to test the pH of various household chemicals.

Thanks to our role models, Kelsey Sampson – Primary Care Paramedic, Dr. Genice Hallett-Tapley – Chemist, Brittany MacDonald – Chemical Engineer, and Dr. Tara Taylor – Mathematician, for chatting to the girls about their careers and broadening their knowledge of STEM careers.

A special thanks also goes out to the Women in Science group at St. FX who had seven members volunteer with us!

Visit our Facebook page, facebook.com/WISEatlantic to view pictures of the event.

 

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Partnerships Program Funding Announcement 2019
For: Teachers/Parents For: Women in SETT

Partnerships Program Funding Announcement 2019

We were pleased to see an increase in applications for our Partnerships Program for the 2019 year, but it made it much harder to decide! Thank you to all organizations/individuals who applied.

We would like to congratulate the following organizations/individuals who will be receiving Partnerships Program Funding for 2019:

  • Terranaut Club – For their outreach project ‘Technology in Marine Conservation’ which will see 10 underrepresented High School girls from Halifax and Dartmouth attend a summer camp at Dalhousie and Acadia Universities to learn about Technology in Marine Conservation.
  • Dr. Svetlana Barkanova at Memorial University Grenfell campus – For her outreach program ‘Open Space: Engaging Teens in Western Newfoundland in Physics and Astronomy’. Partnerships funding will allow female Physics professors at Grenfell to travel to rural schools in NL, including remote First Nations communities, to present and engage with students on current topics in Physics, Astronomy, and Cosmology.
  • The Atlantic Canada Water and Wastewater Association (in partnership with Acadia University – for their project ‘Analysis and Development of Diversity and Inclusion in the Atlantic Canada Water Industry’. Funding support will assist these partners to develop and conduct a research study focusing on diversity and inclusion issues faced by ACWWA’s membership.
  • Refresh Annapolis Valley– For their ‘Build II: Computer Science Camp for Girls’ which is a week-long summer camp for 20 girls which allows them to explore the world of Computer Science. This camp aims to provide free registration for girls from underrepresented communities.

Click here for more info on our Partnerships Program funding.

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STEMaware 2018
For: Students For: Teachers/Parents For: Women in SETT

STEMaware 2018

Making a career choice can be a difficult decision to make – and WISEatlantic is striving to make that decision a little easier for high-school girls interested in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) career paths. At WISEatlantic’s STEM Aware event October 16, 27 high-school girls learned more about the numerous opportunities that STEM fields have to offer by meeting Mount Saint Vincent University Science graduates who work in those roles. The girls had a chance to talk with role models with job titles ranging from ‘Bone Marrow Transplant Specialist’ to ‘Registered Dietitian.’

 

Lottie Pascal, a Grade 11 student at Prince Andrew High School, left at the end of the night with a greater understanding of careers she’d never thought of as an option.

“I was really interested in learning about new careers that I might not have considered before: so, for example, stem cell research is not necessarily something that I would have considered before tonight but it definitely peaked my interest,” Lottie said. “If you aren’t too sure about what you want to do and you have an idea of a general field, this really expands your horizons of possible jobs.”

Grade 10 student Rahaf Abu Baker was another attendee who left with a new perspective. “I came to learn and see if I really want to do dentistry or something else – just to open my mind,” Rahaf said, “I thought of university as being a doctor, teacher, engineer, and other jobs like that, but now I know more. There are way more options than I thought there would be.”

The event was an important way for the role models who volunteered their time to meet with the girls to fill a gap they wish had been acknowledged when they were in high school.

Lauren Harrie, a role model at the event, graduated from the Mount with a Bachelor of Science and works as a Bone Marrow Transplant Specialist with the Nova Scotia Health Authority. She says that when you’re in high school, it’s hard to know about all the roles available in STEM because there are many that no one talks about.

“It’s tough to know which different niche areas there are in different concentrations. You hear about the popular, really well-known jobs but there are so many areas that you could go towards,” Lauren says, “I didn’t know a career as a Bone Marrow Transplant Specialist existed while I was doing my Bachelor of Science, so initially this isn’t a career I would’ve imagined myself in – but now that I’m in this field I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

Tanya Cole was another of the role models who volunteered her time to meet with the girls. She works as a Registered Dietitian in long-term care, but didn’t discover her current career path in dietetics until she had already begun studying business at university. She switched to MSVU’s Applied Human Nutrition program after learning it was an option.

“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do coming out of high-school, and I felt like there wasn’t a lot of opportunities to learn about different careers,” Tanya said. “To be able to have a conversation with somebody, ask questions and find out more about what they did – I think that would have been tremendously helpful to me in high-school.”

This year marked the STEM Aware event’s second anniversary, and it’s an event that NSERC Chair WISEatlantic, Tamara Franz-Odendaal, hopes will continue to grow and builds on from our already highly successful activities for girls in junior high.

“By exposing girls to careers they have never heard of before and by providing them with opportunities to meet local women in these STEM careers, we can help to ensure that the girls will make career choices that are the best fit for themselves. In this way, we are reaching our goal of breaking STEM stereotypes for girls in our region”

In future years, this event will continue to provide girls like Lottie and Rahaf with new perspectives on what a career in STEM fields could look like, and give them a solid foundation on which to make post-secondary and career decisions. But Lauren Harrie wants anyone still worried about their future to remember that their decisions aren’t always as final as they think.

“It’s not an end point ever – you can get to one spot and see what other options are available at that point so I think it’s always constant learning,” Lauren says, “I would encourage anyone to go towards the paths where they see themselves and it’s amazing the sorts of opportunities that will blossom from there.”

A message to our role models:

A huge thank-you goes out to all the role models who make the STEM Aware event possible each year! This year, we’d like to give a special thank-you to the following Mount graduates who spent time talking with attendees and answering their questions:

  • Cynthia Johnston, Quality Leader at the Regional Tissue Bank
  • Erica Fraser, Microbrewer and Biology Lab Instructor
  • Tanya Cole, Registered Dietitian
  • Lauren Harrie, Bone Marrow Transplant Specialist
  • Frank MacDonald, Family Physician
  • Alyssa Doue, Chemistry Lab Instructor

Written by Emily Albert, WISEatlantic Volunteer and Mount student.

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Out of This World!
For: Students For: Teachers/Parents For: Women in SETT

Out of This World!

We were excited to participate in Science Literacy Week again this year with our event Out of This World! Explore Space with Local Scientists.

As the theme of Science Literacy week this year was Space, we decided to host an event that showcased the space-related research happening right here in Atlantic Canada! Our event featured Dr. Svetlana Barkanova, a Physicist at Memorial University Grenfell Campus, who spoke about her research into Dark Matter; Astrophysicist Dr. Catherine Lovekin who detailed her research who focuses on the structure and evolution of massive starts; and WISEatlantic Chair, Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal, who discussed her research on bone development of Zebrafish in a microgravity environment. The event was hosted at Woodlawn Public Library to a very engaged and curious audience of over 50 people.

We would like to thank NSERC, Science Literacy Week, and Halifax Public Libraries for the support of this event.

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WISEatlantic Chair Invited Panelist
For: Women in SETT

WISEatlantic Chair Invited Panelist

WISEatlantic Chair, Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal, was honored to participate in the Diversity in STEM: Why It Matters panel discussion at Acadia University on March 6th, 2018. Other panelists included Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia, CEO of Digital Nova Scotia, Dr. Imogen Coe, Dean of Faculty of Science at Ryerson, and Denise Pothier, Vice President of Practice Services at Stantec. Special thanks to Dr. Randy Newman at Acadia for organizing this event. WISEatlantic was a proud sponsor.

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Partnerships Program Successful Applicants 2017
For: Teachers/Parents For: Women in SETT

Partnerships Program Successful Applicants 2017

The WISEatlantic Partnerships Program is an opportunity for community organizations in Atlantic Canada to apply for small one-year sponsorship for new activities and/or projects that promote the outreach, recruitment, and retention of girls, young women, and industry professionals in STEM. The Partnerships Program had six applicants for 2017 and the following three were successful in receiving funds for innovative programs in 2018:

  1. In-School STEAM Workshops submitted by Education 20/20, PEI
  2. Women Scientists in Agriculture and Fishing submitted by Faculty of Agriculture – Female Leaders in Academia at Dalhousie University, Truro, NS
  3. WISE NL Speaker Series submitted by WISE NL, St. John’s, NL

Congrats to the successful applicants! The next round of submissions will open in September 2018 on our Partnerships Program page.

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Driving Women Out
For: Women in SETT

Driving Women Out

Robin Durnford writes how university's reliance on contract labour is creating a hostile environment for female professors. This article sheds light on the impact of contract positions, and their ramifications for women in academia.

Read the article here.

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Minister Geoff Regan visits Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal
For: Teachers/Parents For: Women in SETT

Minister Geoff Regan visits Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal

This past May, The Honorable Geoff Regan, MP for Halifax West and Speaker of the House of Commons, visited Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal's lab to learn more about her research, and the WISEatlantic program. Dr. Franz-Odendaal was later featured in his Summer 2017 constituency newsletter.

Read the article (on page two of the newsletter) here.

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